Sycamore Primary School Didn’t Have to Close

Cantley Sycamore Primary School closes its doors to pupils this week for the last time, thanks to Peter Davies, the disgusting mayor of Doncaster and his cronies in the cabinet.

We know the mayor is ultra right wing and therefore will never understand the value of such a school to a working class community like Cantley, but it is the policy of all the mainstream political parties, both nationally and locally, to pass on the debt run up by the bankers and financial sector to us and our children, by cutting education, pensions, health provision and many other essential services which we all rely on. The millionaires in government don’t use these services so they don’t know what kind of effect it will have when they take them away. But local politicians like our 3 liberal councillors in Cantley, who pretend to care about our community, have done nothing to support the campaign to save Sycamore school. Like they prop up the Tories in the House of Commons, so they allow the Mayor to close our school with hardly a noise of opposition coming from them.

As far as I know, none of the 3 have signed the petition to keep the school open. Their position is that “Nobody likes to see a school close, but the fact is, the council can not afford to keep it open for so few pupils”, proving that they essentially have the same kind of economic policies as our Mayor and the millionaires in government who are determined to protect the money of their rich friends the bankers.

From the moment the council announced its intention to close the school, parents mounted an angry campaign to oppose it, but it was inevitable that the council’s brazen refusal to listen would lead to some parents fearing the worst and finding places for their children in other schools. Unfortunately, every time this happened it weakened the argument to keep the school open, and even those parents who were determined to stay till the end, who had demonstrated, petitioned, met weekly to plan the campaign, even made plans to occupy the school, became demoralised and eventually came to the conclusion that closure was inevitable and they could do no more. There were just not enough people left to be effective.

What a difference it would have made if our councillors had been as angry as us about the closure. If they had joined the demonstrations, been a voice for the campaign within the council chamber and shown just a bit of determination to fight for what has been a fantastic community school, it could have encouraged parents to stick with it and allowed us to build a bigger, more effective campaign. But the nearest they actually came to opposing the closure was when one of them suggested at the end of an extremely heated consultation meeting with the council that it might be an idea to modify our call to save our school to one of asking for a delay in closure. The response from Andrea Milner, cabinet member with responsibility for Children and Young People’s Services at the time, was that this would be merely ‘postponing the inevitable’, and parents knew very well that a weak compromise like this would have no effect on the council.

On this basis, it should be clear that our Liberal representatives are of very little use to our community when it really matters, and that as part of the fight against the cuts to our services, they should be kicked out of office.

In spite of the failure of our campaign and the extremely sad end that Sycamore School has come to, I think all concerned should be proud of what we did. Unfortunately I think the governments determination to cut our living standards will inevitably force us into more and more fights like this one, but we will not always lose.

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